What is the Gallbladder and what does it do?
The gallbladder is an organ that is attached to the liver. Its purpose is to store bile which helps in the digestion of fat. The gallbladder stores bile until it is needed by the small intestine to digest fat is in your food. When the first part of your small intestine, the duodenum, detects presence of fat it sends a signal through the blood which causes the gallbladder to contract, squeeze the bile into the intestine to help with the digestion process
Why does it need to be removed?
Sometimes stones or sludge can form in the gallbladder which may block the ducts which delivered the bile from the gallbladder to the intestine. When these stones or sludge block the ducts, it can cause severe pain. The pain is generally beneath your ribs on the right side but can radiate to your back. The pain is typically a cramping type of pain which women often described as similar to labor pains. There is usually nausea associated with this; and because the duct is blocked it may lead to infection similar to that when a skin pore gets blocked a pimple forms. Less commonly you can have gallbladder pain without stones or sludge because the gallbladder has stopped functioning properly.
Who gets Gallbladder Disease?
Both men and women can get gallbladder disease, with women typically getting it before their 50s and men typically after 50. Women who have had children tend to get gallbladder disease more often than those that have not, and those who are overweight or obese are more affected than those of a lower BMI.
Can you live without it?
In the absence of a gallbladder the bile ducts within the liver will dilate and take over the reservoir function of the gallbladder. In the short run as your body is adapting to these changes you may experience diarrhea following the consumption of fatty foods. This is typically short lived.
How is the procedure performed?
At Northwest Weight & Wellness we remove gallbladders using laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. Typically, we are able to perform these operations with 3 or 4 incisions that are each about ¼ inch long. Due to the incisions being so small, you will have less pain, barely noticeable scars, and return to normal activities more quickly. The operation is usually less than an hour and you will go home the same day.
Surgeon Training for Cholecystectomy
Most surgeons get training in the basic aspects of laparoscopic surgery during their residency. Residency is a period of training that lasts from 4-6 years following medical school depending on the surgical discipline. Our surgeons trained for 5 years in residency.
Our surgeons also completed an additional year of intense, highly advanced training called a Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship. Both were trained at the Texas Endosurgery Institute where many of the current laparoscopic surgical procedures were developed. Both of our surgeons have been involved in teaching hundreds of other surgeons both nationally and internationally and have published several papers in the field. They have been doing advanced Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery since the turn of the century.
Additionally, both of our surgeons graduated from medical school with Alpha Omega Alpha Honors – an esteemed recognition granted to only the top 3% of each medical school class.
What is recovery like?
Within an hour of the operation, you will be walking and drinking liquids. About an hour later you will be discharged home. You may need pain medications for 2-3 days, though we have made significant improvements in pain control, so your discomfort can be managed with ibuprofen (Advil) and/or Tylenol. We will see you either in the office or virtually 1 week after surgery. Most people only need to take 1 week off of work, or possibly 2 if you have a strenuous job. You should avoid fatty foods for the first month, but after that you can resume your regular diet.
The providers at Northwest Weight & Wellness Center have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.